A century ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes favored the state of Georgia in an environmental complaint against Tennessee copper companies, saying the state had “the last word as to whether its mountains shall be stripped of their forests and its inhabitants shall breathe pure air.”

Last month, Justice John Paul Stevens — delivering the opinion of the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, — cited that 100-year-old Georgia ruling in affirming that the states have the right to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming. Georgia was not among the 12 states that joined in the litigation as amici.

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